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Medallion commemorating the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games that belonged to Arthur Calwell #2010-0275

Medallion in plastic case; relief sculpture of a group of marching athletes and the inscription ‘OLYMPIC GAMES MELBOURNE 1956…’ with the City of Melbourne arms and the Olympic symbol on the reverse. The medallion was designed by Andor Meszaros.

History

This medallion, designed by Mr Andor Meszaros, is part of a collection of objects that belonged to Arthur Calwell, Australia’s first Minister for Immigration (1945-49) that were donated to the museum by his daughter, Dr Mary Elizabeth Calwell.

All people involved in the organisation of the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games, as well as the 2830 runners who carried the Olympic flame from Cairns to Melbourne, were presented with one of these medallions. The Melbourne Summer Olympic Games of 1956 are one of the great ‘coming of age’ moments in the history of post-war Australia, and represent a watershed in the history of the modern Olympic movement. They were the first to be held in the Southern Hemisphere, and the first to stage a freely-mingling march of all athletes at the closing ceremony. Calwell’s role in ensuring the games took place in Melbourne was one aspect of the close tie between federal politics and these games. The key role of Liberal Member of Parliament Wilfrid Kent Hughes in running the games also attests to this strong connection.

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Statement of values

This medallion is significant as part of the Arthur Calwell collection, which is comprised of a selection of objects that belonged to Australia’s first Minister for Immigration (1945-49), Arthur Calwell. The collection is significant as a whole because it tells a story about a leading Commonwealth parliamentarian of the middle decades of the twentieth century and includes highly personal material which tells of Calwell’s family life, his life-long involvement in Labor politics, and his personal religious convictions. The Arthur Calwell collection at the museum uniquely links the personal with the political, thus affording an opportunity to conduct research which tells a rounded story of this important parliamentarian.

This medallion is significant because of its association with Calwell, who served on the Organising Committee of the Games in his capacity as Chairman of Trustees of the MCG and who played a role in the securing of it as a venue for the Olympics in Melbourne in 1956.

Reference:

Calwell, Arthur, Be just and fear not, Victoria: Hawthorn, 1972.

Carlisle, Leslie, J., Australian historical medals 1788-1988, Sydney, 2008.

Kiernan, Colm, Calwell: a personal and political biography, Melbourne: Thomas Nelson, 1978.

  • Medallion commemorating the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games that belonged to Arthur Calwell - obverseMedallion commemorating the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games that belonged to Arthur Calwell - obverse —
  • Medallion commemorating the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games that belonged to Arthur Calwell - reverseMedallion commemorating the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games that belonged to Arthur Calwell - reverse —

Details

Depth 14mm
Diameter 74mm
Medium Metal; plastic
Creator’s name Unknown
Date created Circa 1956